Returning from Japan recently, I noted a lack of Christmas decorations in the shops and windows. Naturally, with Buddhism and Shintoism being the philosophies and religious practices, it seems that the Christian meaning of Christmas is next to none. Growing up as a child my own family kept Christmas quite low key with basic decorations ( door wreath, hanging cards on a string and the tree) Now as a parent, grandmother and creative soul, I like to bring in touches of Christmas festive reds, greens and gold with some vintage finds, hand made ornaments, cushions, candles and tinsel.
Over the years I have enjoyed going to church singing Silent Night, O Come all ye Faithful and We Three Kings. Lighting candles, fruit mince tarts, garlands and wreaths on the door, even a bunting or two adds to the sparkle in the house. The star on the top of the tree, food left out for the reindeer, sacks and stockings filled with goodies – all the merriment of December leading to the 25th.
Do you bring out the traditional Nativity scene? Are their bonbons on the table?
Do you wake at the crack of dawn with wide eyed children pestering you to open the presents under the tree?
Do you sing Rudolf the Red nosed reindeer?
Or bake the traditional roast pork and crackling with rich pudding, shortbread and rum balls? Traditions can take years to develop in families and they are passed onto the next generation. What are yours?
Are you planning Christmas at the beach, a country Christmas, overseas Christmas or madly visiting all the in laws type Christmas? Opening the presents – how do you do that?
Many years ago in Scotland, I did not have a white Christmas; instead we gathered at church about 11pm Christmas Eve and came home in the early hours of the cold morning to open some of the presents, then we went to sleep. Different. Surprising. Memorable.
Sometimes the simplest traditions are the best. Gathering with family and telling them they are loved. Remembering the birth of Jesus and the star in the sky. Giving to others.
Cheerful gratitude. The magical angel on the tree or the salads and seafood at the seaside; or roast turkey and plum pudding with custard; opening presents together; writing letters to Santa, carols by candle light.
“Yule’ in Iceland starts about 23 December; The Chinese Christmas trees are called, “Trees of Light”. Santa Claus is called Dun Che Lao Ren which means “Christmas Old Man.” The non Christian Chinese call the season the Spring Festival and celebrate many festivities that include delicious meals and pay respects to their ancestors. Nativity scenes are popular in Brazil. They are set up in churches and homes all through December. And in England, it is cold where families welcome the warmth of a Yule log blazing on the hearth. Holly, Ivy and other evergreens hang a mistletoe “kissing bough”.
Brooke from the Southern Highlands in NSW ( Country Style magazine, 2018) says, ” we always go a bit overboard dressing the house for Christmas and every year I make a new wreath for the wall. On Christmas Eve we celebrate with friends and family at the pub before returning home and feasting on a ham by our fabulous local butcher, Maugers Meats. Christmas Day is spent eating, opening presents, and playing games, and then we head down to my parent’s house at Narrawallee on the NSW South Coast to spend a few days recovering.”
Kate another creative mum looks forward to a Christmas filled with fun and family traditions. “First thing on Christmas morning, the children find small gifts in sacks hanging by the fireplace, but the real gift-giving is a well ordered ritual. I hate the idea of a frenzy of unwrapping presents and I like each person to take their turn unwrapping so we can enjoy that moment,” she says.
I sincerely hope you have an enjoyable Christmas wherever you live. Blessings, romance and lots of good cheer. And a shared story from a Christmas anthology.